US sanctions Myanmar general for human rights abuses in Rakhine

By REUTERS

WASHINGTON — The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on 13 “serious human rights abusers and corrupt actors” including Myanmar General Maung Maung Soe, who oversaw this year’s brutal crackdown against the Rohingya.

The US government, applying penalties for the first time under a law passed last year, also targeted 39 other individuals and entities with sanctions that block their assets under US jurisdiction, bar most Americans from dealing with them and largely cut them off from the global financial system.

Myanmar’s government spokesman was not immediately available for comment on the U.S. sanctions.

Myanmar’s military cracked down on the Rohingya following August 25 Rohingya militant attacks on an army base and police posts. Maung Maung Soe was in charge of the operation that drove more than 650,000 Rohingya to flee northern Rakhine State to Bangladesh.

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The United States on November 22 called the Myanmar military operation against the Rohingya population “ethnic cleansing” and threatened targeted sanctions against those responsible.

The United States “examined credible evidence of Maung Maung Soe’s activities, including allegations against Burmese security forces of extrajudicial killings, sexual violence and arbitrary arrest as well as the widespread burning of villages,” the Treasury Department said on Thursday.

Myanmar’s army last month released a report denying all allegations of rape and killings by security forces, having days earlier replaced Maung Maung Soe. No reason was given for his transfer from the post.

“We must lead by example, and today’s announcement of sanctions demonstrates the United States will continue to pursue tangible and significant consequences for those who commit serious human rights abuse and engage in corruption,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement.

The sanctions against the 13 people described by the Treasury Department as “serious human rights abusers and corrupt actors” and the 39 “affiliated individuals and entities” were the first imposed under a U.S. law called the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

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